If you’re looking for a glamorous lifestyle, don’t choose an entrepreneurial career path. While the rewards can be lucrative, the beginning stages are almost always littered with challenges and growing pains. This is especially true when attempting to push a startup past the initial launch, as you’ll face a number of growing pains.
Here are nine major ones:
1. Getting overwhelmed by growth
For entrepreneurs with successful ideas or startups, there’s always pressure to grow and expand: t’s just the mindset of 21st century entrepreneurs. You come up with an idea, you launch it and you grow it. Most entrepreneurs want the biggest enterprise they can build -- and they want it as quickly as possible.
While there’s nothing wrong with growth, you have to be careful with how and when you pursue it. As Entrepreneur.com contributor Robert Kiyosaki writes, “Just because you’re successful building a small business doesn’t mean you’ll be successful building a big business.” In other words, some entrepreneurs and businesses are better suited for smaller scale operation.
Every entrepreneur will eventually have to deal with the growing pains of expansion, and it’s up to you to determine whether or not it’s the right time to push forward. How you deal with this growing pain may determine the future success of your business.
2. Learning to say no
Saying no isn’t natural for most people. Humans are innately born with a desire to satisfy others. We prefer to say yes. However, successful entrepreneurs have to love the word “no.” In fact, you’ll need to say no more than you say yes.
You may never get to a point where you’re comfortable saying no, but you have to do it anyways. Otherwise, you’ll end up compromising your business at the expense of making people happy. It’s an uncomfortable growing pain but one that must be dealt with, nonetheless.
3.Transforming into a leader
There is a big difference between being an owner and a leader. A business owner looks at things through a black and white lens. Numbers have to add up, spreadsheets must be organized and people are nothing more than assets. A leader, on the other hand, must have both business intelligence and emotional intelligence.
A leader cares about employees, takes their interests and suggestions to heart and makes decisions that benefit employees, customers and the business.
4. Creating a focused vision
Along with that need to become a leader comes the demand for a focused vision. “This is a meaningful vision that you write down and which represents the highest agreement among all the people involved in the new venture,” writes Ken Blanchard, entrepreneur and best-selling author. “It’s where you and the founders of the organization declare who you are, what you’re up to and why it matters.”
While it sounds neat and easy on paper, creating a focused vision is far from easy. If multiple founders are involved, it’s tremendously difficult to get everyone on the same page.
5. Trimming costs and developing a lean environment
Once your startup begins to grow, you have to find a way to trim costs and develop a lean environment that takes expenses and profit margin seriously. It’s never easy to make changes when something is already "working," but you will have to if you want your business to experience long-term growth.
6. Hiring the right people
Most entrepreneurs start the hiring process with people they either personally know or have some sort of direct connection to. It’s the easiest, fastest and cheapest place to start. However, every successful startup hits a point where convenience is no longer preferred over quality. Once you come to this phase, you need to start seriously looking at your hiring processes and how you acquire talent.
There are plenty of schools of thought when it comes to hiring talent for startups, but the following three insights are all you really need to pass this growing pain.
Always start by gauging the interest of anyone you’re interviewing. Are they as interested in you as you are in them?
Hire based on potential, not past experiences. While experience does matter, you’re looking to move forward -- not boast about the past.
Always share your vision with potential hires to gauge how they connect with it.
If you can get these three things right, you’ll be able to hire and retain top-level talent as your startup enters periods of growth.
7. Learning when to delegate
Most entrepreneurs like to be in control. It sort of comes naturally with the label. And while control is necessary in the beginning stages, there comes a point where delegating becomes a priority. It may feel weird, uncomfortable and out of place, but you have to make the transition from doing everything yourself to letting others -- whom you trust -- take on important tasks and responsibilities. If you get the hiring process right, you shouldn’t have any issues.
8. Willingness to pivot
There’s usually one major difference (among many minor ones) between experienced entrepreneurs and those with their first startup. Experienced entrepreneurs understand that the first idea isn’t always the best idea. In other words, you must be willing to pivot when your initial idea or concept doesn’t work like it should.
This is one of the more painful growing pains an entrepreneur experiences but also the most critical. It doesn’t feel good to give up on your idea, so you have to look at it in a different light. Instead of viewing it as "giving up," look at it like you’re transitioning. You’re using experiences that you’ve gathered to make an educated shift that will better benefit your business in the years to come.
9. Managing the work-life balance
How do you handle personal responsibilities on the home front while also giving your undivided focus to the financial success of your business?
Surprisingly, it’s this growing pain that hurts a lot of otherwise successful entrepreneurs. This one has a way of sneaking up on you until it’s too late. By setting priorities and staying organized, you can manage this balance and give both the attention they deserve.
Growing pains do one of two things to entrepreneurs. They either overwhelm them and cause them to give up, back down or alter their vision or teach them new lessons and allow them to better understand their business or industry. It’s sort of like the “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” mantra. Anything that makes you uncomfortable and forces you to grow is productive in the long run.